Hailed as one of the greatest games ever made by it’s huge fan base, Activision’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the phenomenally popular and appropriately titled sequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Before being able to tackle combat in the modern day, the Call of Duty franchise had it’s sights firmly set on being a World War II first person shooter with the original and its two sequels taking place between 1939 and 1945. It was a new franchise and it was trying to take on a sea of brilliant WWII shooters from Return to Castle Wolfenstein to the original Medal of Honor and its many sequels, Call of Duty was trying to take on the first person shooter kings, without much luck. The original, which I have played, was a masterpiece but couldn’t seem to reach anywhere near the popularity of the Medal of Honor franchise. Call of Duty’s sequels didn’t do much better and weren’t received as well as the original, but with Medal of Honor also falling short of delivering a satisfying experience, Call of Duty was ready to pounce upon an idea which would leave gamers and fans in awe.
With the WWII setting becoming stale and overused, Infinity Ward, developers of the original Call of Duty and Call of Duty 2, decided to change setting completely and set their game in the modern day with modern technology and modern weaponry, modern warfare if you will. It was by no means the first game to do so but it was arguably the first to make it quite such an awe-inspiring and shocking experience. The game wasn’t gory by the standards of some other video games and certainly nowhere near the standards of the film industry but it had some of the most exhilarating, satisfying and shocking moments ever encountered in a single player campaign. Of course the main appeal of the original Modern Warfare was the highly addictive multiplayer with its superbly implemented level-up system and satisfying unlockables, it is quite possibly the best multiplayer experience implemented in a game and would have been hailed as such if it wasn’t for another popular sequel to come out around the same time, Halo 3.
Continuing the story of the original, Modern Warfare 2 set about the impossible task of improving on its perfect predecessor. To many it had succeeded. Sales-wise Infinity Ward reported on June 3, 2008 that Modern Warfare had sold over ten million units and the NPD group reported in March 2010 that its sequel had sold just under ten million units in the US alone if wikipedia is to be believed. Modern Warfare 2 is technically a very good game with solid controls, stunning visuals and even more shocking moments in it than the original. Despite this and picking up five years after the events of the original Modern Warfare and re-introducing us to our beloved characters, Modern Warfare 2 falls short of its predecessor’s story. There are too many plot-holes, not enough satisfaction and too much of the overused conspiracies that have plagued story-telling in video games for years. Graphically it is just as amazing as before, the multiplayer is improved dramatically and the controls are so solid that they have almost become standard for future first person shooters. Technically, it should be better than the original but too much is the same for it to be anything more than a sequel to a brilliant game, rather than a brilliant game in its own right.